The displaced people from Banavil returned today (3rd August) to their lands for 15 days, but they fear attacks
August 3. Desinformémonos. The displaced people have returned to Banavil, just for 15 days, to check the condition of their lands and their homes, many of which were ransacked after their expulsion in 2011. They now fear what might happen to them, so Frayba demands security measures for these Tzeltal community members.
Miguel Delgado has been living with 18 other family members in San Cristobal de las Casas since December 4, 2011, when several residents of the community of Banavil in the municipality of Tenejapa killed one of his relatives and disappeared another, forcing them to flee their community.
On Monday, August 3, Delgado and his family returned to set foot in their community accompanied by the Faces of Dispossession caravan organized by the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) and other partner organizations. The displaced will return to Banavil for just 15 days to check the condition of their lands and their homes, many of them ransacked after their expulsion in 2011. They now fear what might happen to them, so Frayba demands security measures for these Tzeltal community members.
Their crime, being Zapatistas
A Zapatista support base was established in Banavil in 1996, just two years after the uprising in Chiapas. But it was not until 2011, when the government introduced plans for housing and aid to the countryside, that these began to divide the community. "We started thinking what paths we were going to take. Some got out and grabbed the projects. Our family was struggling and they started to harass us," Delgado says.
On December 4, 2011, a group of about 30 men, led by local cacique Alonso López Ramírez, went into several houses in Banavil with guns and surrounded them. During the attack Pedro Méndez López died, Alonso López Luna wasmdisappeared – later they found just his arm – and six others were injured.
During these four years Miguel Delgado and his family left their life in the countryside, where they grew corn and beans, to live in a city like San Cristobal. There, they survived by working as labourers for a mason and a laundry. "We are happy to be able to see our lands once more, but we fear that the events of 2011 will be repeated. We trust in the hand of God so that there will be no more conflicts."
Frayba and the displaced people call for national and international solidarity to make the displacement visible and to prevent future attacks. They have also challenged the authorities to ensure the safety of the members of the caravan who are to accompany the returnees for 15 days.
No end to the displacement
Frayba estimate that in Chiapas from 1994 to 1999 more than 15 thousand indigenous were forcibly displaced due to the counterinsurgency strategy of the federal government and also as a result of environmental and agrarian conflicts. From 1999 until the present, this human rights centre has monitored and disseminated information about 15 other similar stories.
The Faces of Dispossession campaign has focused on documenting and analyzing in depth three cases in Chiapas, which are those of Banavil, San Marcos Avilés and Viejo Velasco, in the latter case four people were killed and another four were disappeared.